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WORLD MUSIC REVIEW

Jobim's legacy is a starting point for new adventures

October 03, 2005|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

Antonio Carlos Jobim is most closely associated with bossa nova, the gorgeously melodic, harmonically rich, jazz-tinged music that burst onto the international scene from Brazil in the late '50s and early '60s. His superb catalog of songs -- many written with lyricist Vinicius de Moraes and now performed in genres far beyond bossa nova -- is one of the most vital and active collections of the last 50 years.

On Friday night at the Ford Amphitheatre, Jobim's music was revisited in a different but completely appropriate fashion, by a quartet of gifted Brazilian artists.

The program opened with a brief solo piano set by Marcos Ariel. Starting from a classical viewpoint, he found Jobim linkages in Chopin and Bach, then moved into a curious but ultimately effective connection with Thelonious Monk, adding his own breathy vocals to complete the mix.

It was an intriguing and entertaining collection of vignettes, but Ariel did his most enterprising playing in the second half of the program, performing with clarinetist Paulo Moura, Bahian guitarist Armandinho Macedo and percussionist Robertinho Silva. The premise of their performance was basic enough -- to explore new instrumental interpretations of Jobim's music. What they did with it was another matter entirely.

Almost every song was deconstructed. Notes flew in all directions, choro and samba rhythms abounded, and tunes such as "One Note Samba" came bursting out of the box as fascinating new musical entities.

All this was made possible by the players' unerring combination of virtuosity and musical eclecticism. Moura's clarinet playing generated new life into this currently overlooked instrument, Macedo and Silva brought buoyant physical enthusiasm to the nonstop vigor of their playing, and Ariel added a warm, supportive harmonic foundation to the simmering musical mix. The always adventurous Jobim (who died in 1994 at age 67) would surely have loved it all.

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